THE CLEANERS

When you post something on the web, can you be sure it stays there? Enter a hidden shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn’t like. Who is controlling what we see… and what we think?

“A neon-lit documentary shot like a noir thriller.”
Variety

“The Cleaners is a riveting documentary about how social media might be ruining the world. A movie of the moment.”
The Verge

“Smart, stylish doc exposes must-discuss issues regarding the companies who dominate the internet.”
The Hollywood Reporter

“The film is packed with pressing questions faced by internet giants, governments, and you and me.”
Cnet.com

“On the basis of The Cleaners, it feels as if a Frankenstein’s monster has been created and is now out of control.”
Screen International

News

  • 09/2018 - THE CLEANERS nominated for Prix Europa and Japan Prize

    We are happy to announce that our investigative documentary film about the shadow industry of global content moderation has been [...]

    We are happy to announce that our investigative documentary film about the shadow industry of global content moderation has been nominated for both PRIX EUROPA and the JAPAN PRIZE. Additionally, THE CLEANERS was recently honored with the Raven Award for the Best Feature Film at DOCUTAH Film Festival in St. George, Utah.  


  • 11/2017 - World premiere of THE CLEANERS at Sundance Film Festival 2018!

    Our investigative documentary THE CLEANERS will run as part of the competition “World Cinema Documentary” alongside a splendid selection of [...]

    Our investigative documentary THE CLEANERS will run as part of the competition “World Cinema Documentary” alongside a splendid selection of international documentary films. We are overly happy and congratulate the entire team that has dedicatedly worked on this intense project, especially the two directors Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck. THE CLEANERS is a gebrueder beetz film production in co-production with Grifa Filmes, WDR, VPRO, rbb and I Wonder Pictures, in association with Motto Pictures and arte, supported by Film- and Medienstiftung NRW, Creative Europe - Media Program of the European Union, Ancine, FSA, BRDE and Blue Ice Docs. World Sales: Cinephil Stay tuned to what comes next!

    Film website
    Sundance website



THE CLEANERS

Enter a hidden third world shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn‘t like. Here we meet five “digital scavengers”, among thousands of people outsourced from Silicon Valley, whose job is to delete “inappropriate” content of the net. In a parallel struggle, we meet people around the globe whose lives are dramatically affected by online censorship. A typical “cleaner” must observe and rate thousands of often deeply disturbing images and videos every day, leading to lasting psychological impacts.

Yet underneath their work lie profound questions around what makes an image art or propaganda and what defines journalism. Where exactly is the point of balance for social media to be neither an unlegislated space nor a forum rife with censorship? THE CLEANERS struggles to come to terms with this new and disconcerting paradigm. Evolving from a shared social vision of a global village to a web of fake news and radicalization, the film charts the rise and fall of social media’s utopian ideology.

“A neon-lit documentary shot like a noir thriller.”
Variety

“The Cleaners is a riveting documentary about how social media might be ruining the world. A movie of the moment.”
The Verge

“Smart, stylish doc exposes must-discuss issues regarding the companies who dominate the internet.”
The Hollywood Reporter

“The film is packed with pressing questions faced by internet giants, governments, and you and me.”
Cnet.com

“On the basis of The Cleaners, it feels as if a Frankenstein’s monster has been created and is now out of control.”
Screen International

Directed by: Hans Block & Moritz Riesewieck

Produced by:
Christian Beetz

Producer:
Georg Tschurtschenthaler

Executive Producer:
Christopher Clements
Julie Goldman
Philippa Kowarsky

Co-Producer:
Fernando Dias
Mauricio Dias
Reinhardt Beetz
Andrea Romeo

Director of Photography:
Axel Schneppat & Max Preiss

Editor:
Philipp Gromov (BFS)
Hansjörg Weißbrich (BFS)
Markus CM Schmidt

Sound:
Karsten Höfer

Music:
Paradox Paradise
John Gürtler
Jan Miserre
Lars Voges

Line Producer:
Kathrin Isberner

Co-Executive Producers:
Carolyn Hepburn
Neil Tabatznik
Robin Smith

Associate Producers:
Zora Nessl
Marissa Ericson

Production Manager:
Anique Roelfsema

Assistant Producers:
Nina Hölzl
Hannah Kappes
Judith Fächner
Caroline Schaper

Commissioning Editors:
Christiane Hinz, Jutta Krug – WDR/arte

Eric Friedler - NDR
Rolf Bergmann - rbb
Yoko Imai - NHK
Mandy Chang - BBC
Barbara Truyen - VPRO
Cae Coelho - PlayTV

In association with:
Axel Arnö - SVT
Sharon Nuni, Martin Traxl - ORF
Irène Challand, Gaspard Lamunière - RTS
Anders Bruus - DR
Valerio Selle - RSI
Guy Lavie, Danna Stern - YES Docu
Jenny Westergard - YLE
Andreas Fay - VGTV
Majda Gantar - RTV Slovenija
Junita Budvytiene - LRT

A production by:
gebrueder beetz filmproduktion

In co-production with:
Grifa Filmes
WDR
NDR
rbb
VPRO
and I Wonder Pictures

In association with:
Motto Pictures

ARTE
NHK
BBC
Play TV
PRO PUBLICA
and SVT, ORF, RTS, DR, RSI, Yes Docu, YLE, VGTV, LRT

With the support of:
Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme oft he European Union
FSA
Ancine
BRDE
Film- und Medienstiftung NRW

Produced with the participation of:
Blue Ice Docs

North America Co-represented by:
Cinephil & Submarine

World Sales:
Cinephil
Philippa Kowarsky
Olivier Tournaud

  • The Cleaners - World Premiere

    Sundance Film Festival - Park City, Utah
    19 January 2018 at 5:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Sundance Film Festival - Park City, Utah
    20 January 2018 at 12:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Sundance Film Festival - Park City, Utah
    20 January 2018 at 9:00 pm

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    Sundance Film Festival - Park City, Utah
    24 January 2018 at 2:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Sundance Film festival - Park City, Utah
    27 January 2018 at 1:00 pm

  • The Cleaners - European Premiere

    International Film Festival Rotterdam -
    28 January 2018 at 4:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    International Film Festival Rotterdam -
    29 January 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    International Film Festival Rotterdam -
    31 January 2018 at 9:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    International Film Festival Rotterdam -
    02 February 2018 at 6:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Thessaloniki
    04 March 2018 at 8:00 pm

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    Thessaloniki Documentary Festival - Thessaloniki
    05 March 2018 at 3:30 pm

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    One World Human Rights Film Festival - Prague
    05 March 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    One World Human Rights Film Festival - Prague
    06 March 2018 at 6:15 pm

  • The Cleaners - Swiss Premiere at CERN

    International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights - Geneva
    13 March 2018 at 6:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    One World Human Rights Film Festival - Prague
    14 March 2018 at 3:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights - Geneva
    14 March 2018 at 6:15 pm

  • The Cleaners

    CPH:DOX - Copenhagen
    17 March 2018 at 4:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    CPH:DOX - Copenhagen
    21 March 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docville International Documentary Film Festival - Leuven
    22 March 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docville International Documentary Film Festival - Leuven, Belgium
    24 March 2018 at 1:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    CPH:DOX - Copenhagen
    24 March 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docville International Documentary Film Festival - Leuven, Belgium
    26 March 2018 at 10:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    C-Base - Berlin
    06 April 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Full Frame Documentary Film Festival - Durham, North Carolina
    07 April 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    San Francisco International Film Festival - California
    08 April 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    San Francisco International Film Festival - Special Screening and discussion with Electronic Frontier Foundation
    11 April 2018 at 8:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    San Francisco International Film Festival - California
    14 April 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Hot Docs International Film Festival - Toronto
    30 April 2018 at 6:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Hot Docs International Film Festival - Toronto
    02 May 2018 at 2:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Re:publica - Berlin
    03 May 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Filmkunstfest MV - Schwerin
    04 May 2018 at 12:00 am

  • The Cleaners

    Dokfest München - München
    04 May 2018 at 9:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Hot Docs International Film Festival - Toronto
    04 May 2018 at 9:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Jeonju International Film Festival - Jeonju
    05 May 2018 at 8:00 pm

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    Theater Dortmund - Dortmund
    05 May 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Dokfest München - München
    06 May 2018 at 2:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Dokfest München - München
    08 May 2018 at 6:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Jeonju International Film Festival - Jeonju
    09 May 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF Poland - Warszawa
    11 May 2018 at 6:15 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Dokfest München - München
    11 May 2018 at 10:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Jeonju International Film Festival - Jeonju
    12 May 2018 at 7:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF Poland - Warszawa
    13 May 2018 at 4:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Dokfest München - München
    13 May 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF Poland - Warszawa
    16 May 2018 at 4:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Millennium Docs Against Gravity FF Poland - Warszawa
    20 May 2018 at 2:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docs Barcelona - Barcelona
    23 May 2018 at 6:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docs Barcelona - Barcelona
    26 May 2018 at 4:15 pm

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    Sheffield Doc Fest - Sheffield
    08 June 2018 at 11:30 am

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    Sheffield Doc Fest - Sheffield
    10 June 2018 at 9:00 pm

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    Sydney Film Festival - Sydney
    13 June 2018 at 6:00 pm

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    Sydney Film Festival - Sydney
    15 June 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Human Rights Watch Film Festival NYC - New York
    17 June 2018 at 8:15 pm

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    Human Rights Watch Film Festival NYC - New York
    18 June 2018 at 9:00 pm

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    Silbersalz - Halle
    30 June 2018 at 9:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    New Zealand International Film Festival - Auckland
    20 July 2018 at 1:15 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival - Headfort Kells, Co. Meath
    22 July 2018 at 2:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Guth Gafa International Documentary Film Festival - Headfort Kells, Co. Meath
    22 July 2018 at 2:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    New Zealand International Film Festival - Auckland
    23 July 2018 at 6:15 pm

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    New Zealand International Film Festival - Auckland
    26 July 2018 at 12:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Jerusalem Film Festival - Jerusalem
    28 July 2018 at 1:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    New Zealand International Film Festival - Auckland
    28 July 2018 at 2:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Jerusalem Film Festival - Jerusalem
    03 August 2018 at 9:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    DokuFest - Prizren, Kosovo
    05 August 2018 at 10:00 pm

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    DokuFest - Prizren, Kosovo
    11 August 2018 at 12:00 pm

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    arte
    28 August 2018 at 9:50 pm

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    ARD
    11 September 2018 at 10:45 pm

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    ARD
    12 September 2018 at 2:10 am

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    ORF2
    16 September 2018 at 11:05 pm

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    Bergen International Film Festival - Bergen
    27 September 2018 at 8:40 pm

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    Zurich Film Festival - Zurich
    28 September 2018 at 7:00 pm

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    Reykjavík International Film Festival - Reykjavík
    29 September 2018 at 8:00 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Bergen International Film Festival - Bergen
    30 September 2018 at 9:15 am

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    Zurich Film Festival - Zurich
    30 September 2018 at 1:45 pm

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    Reykjavík International Film Festival - Reykjavík
    01 October 2018 at 1:00 pm

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    Bergen International Film Festival - Bergen
    02 October 2018 at 11:15 pm

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    Reykjavík International Film Festival - Reykjavík
    03 October 2018 at 7:00 pm

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    Zurich Film Festival - Zurich
    04 October 2018 at 6:45 pm

  • The Cleaners

    Docs MX Mexico International Film Festival - Mexiko City
    19 October 2018 at 6:00 pm

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    Astra Film Festival - Sibiu
    19 October 2018 at 6:30 pm

  • The Cleaners

    DocsMX Mexico International Film Festival - Mexiko City
    20 October 2018 at 8:50 pm

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    WDR
    16 January 2019 at 8:15 pm

  • Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2018

    "Disturbing on several levels, a behind the scenes look at the anonymous toilers who do digital cleaning, policing the internet for violence, child pornography and more.”

  • The Hollywood Reporter, January 19, 2018

    “Smart, stylish doc exposes must-discuss issues regarding the companies who dominate the internet...The Cleaners is an important documentary that invites viewers to now think more deeply and broadly about what does and doesn't appear in their feed-dominated media diet… This arthouse-ready doc will deepen viewers' understanding of, and concern about, some of the Internet Age's most urgent concerns.”

  • Screen International, January 19, 2018

    “The Cleaners offers an intelligent, thought-provoking insight into the global impact of the major social media companies through the testimony of five content moderators responsible for monitoring what is considered legal, decent and acceptable… A timely film, capable of sparking vigorous debate, The Cleaners should secure multiple likes, comments and desires to share...On the basis of The Cleaners, it feels as if a Frankenstein’s monster has been created and is now out of control.”

  • The Verge, January 21, 2018

    “The Cleaners is a riveting documentary about how social media might be ruining the world… Riesewieck and Block nevertheless do a tremendous job of taking subject matter that could be too heady, or that people could simply be too tired of hearing about, and making it seem vibrant and incredibly vital.”

  • Variety, January 24, 2018

    “A neon-lit documentary shot like a noir thriller...This thorough, yet conflicted globe-trotting documentary thriller meets the social media censors struggling to save the web...Today’s historians should bury this documentary in a time capsule to explain 2018 to the future species who will hopefully do a better job running the planet.“

  • CNET, January 29, 2018

    “Vital documentary 'The Cleaners' dishes dirt on social media… It's an incisive new documentary that shines a light on the most uncomfortable questions about social media and the online age… This searingly relevant film is essential viewing...The Cleaners does an exceptional job of summing up the issues surrounding social media. We don't yet know how we're going to clean up this mess, but the film is packed with pressing questions faced by internet giants, governments, and you and me.”

  • Roger Ebert.com, February 5, 2018

    “‘The Cleaners’ displays a fantastic ability to wrap its head around a complete mess… Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck keenly focus on something that affects everyone with a social media account, a crisis with repercussions as unconscionable as they are important… Block and Riesewieck articulate the issue's global importance… Boasts a necessary scope and immediacy for such a crisis of humanity, the questions it raises becoming a disturbing facet themselves… Stunning, subdued cinematography… Prevails most by shining a light on those whose existence has all but been erased by a flawed system, all so that everyone else can still be heard on social media.”